September 15, 2011 – An extensive fire broke out at white hall in downtown Grand Junction, Colorado. The building was an old Presbyterian Church and landmark that burned in the early hours of Thursday morning. Firefighters attacked the fire for more than three hours to get the blaze under control. After one firefighter fell through the wooden floor, crews pulled back to the exterior of the building to battle the blaze. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office assisted fire crews armed with a new tool to get a bird’s eye view from the sky. The Draganflyer X6 UAV VTOL helicopter equipped with a thermal infrared camera helped fire crews pinpoint hot spots from the air, so fire crews could focus on those areas. Ben Miller, of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, operates the UAV and has been flying the Draganflyer X6 for more than a year. He recently received approval from the FAA to fly county wide, doing away with the Emergency COA (eCOA) previously needed for each time the aircraft was deployed. Images captured from the helicopter will aid in the investigation to determine the cause of the fire. It’s the first time this type of technology has been used this way in Mesa County, and possibly the whole country.
See more aerial photos from the Draganflyer X6 .
View the interview with Ben Miller and film footage shot on-scene during this event on kjct8.com
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